Busking in Romania

2 minute read

For a very long time I’ve wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument. When I was in Israel in 2019, I had the opportunity to borrow a Bansuri from an old man in the village and practice it in a quiet place. So I’m not formally trained to play it, I simply improvise and try to have fun playing it. To be honest my skill level is probably that of a beginner, but I enjoy creating some music without feeling the pressure of wanting to be a maestro.

I believe after digital music became so ubiquitous we have forgotten what real, and live music is. Why would you ever listen to a rookie when you can listen to Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasiya or Anoushka Shankar on demand? The way the industry has transformed after it’s tech disruption is that we can consume the work of world class musicians and beginners to the industry have to compete with the best from Day 1. This is akin to a newbie athlete having to compete with olympic athletes, even from the past, if they want to make a living from this pursuit. One might argue that this is actually a good thing for the consumers because we get better music, whatever that means, from more competition. But in my opinion, I think this is detrimental to the way we experience music. We as humans for some reason consider listening to live music better than listening to recorded things. I can’t place my finger on what it is, but there is some unknown factor that makes live music more appealing and more satisfying to listen to. Maybe it is the possibility of things being slightly different and there being room for improvisation which makes our brains believe that live music is more real than recorded stuff.

I digress with all these meta thoughts. The point I’m trying to make is that I wanted to be able to perform without feeling the pressure that I was competing for something. When I was traveling in Romania, in the gorgeous city of Brașov, I came across a street performer, Andri, who was playing the handpan. I asked him if I could play with him the next day, surprisingly he agreed. He suggested that we first meet and jam at his place to make sure that the music worked. I said yes of course, but I was so nervous the entire time because I didn’t know if I could simply trust a stranger and go to his home. I carried my pepper spray with me to be on the safe side, but thankfully I didn’t need to use it. More importantly, the handpan and my flute went well together, and sounded pleasant.

Personally, I feel my music evokes a lot of sad emotions and can be cathartic. It is in no way perfect, you will be able to definitely point out the places where I falter (improper technique and also it was quite cold there so my fingers were freezing).

Going busking has been something that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, with this little trip I took to Romania I can check that off my bucket list. Here is a video of part of the performance:


Part of the motivation to do something like this came from Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk called The Art of Asking. In her talk Amanda shares some interesting observations that she made while doing street performances and asking people to pay for her music. This adds another dimension to the conversation about the music industry.